Menkes disease is an infantile-onset X-linked recessive neurodegenerative disorder caused by diverse mutations in a copper-transport gene, ATP7A. Affected patients are characterized by progressive hypotonia, seizures, failure to thrive and death in early childhood. Here, we report a case of Menkes disease presented by intractable seizures and infantile spasms. A 3-month-old male infant had visited our pediatric clinic for lethargy, floppy muscle tone, poor oral intake and partial seizures. His hair was kinky, brown colored and fragile. Partial seizures became more frequent, generalized and intractable to antiseizure medications. An EEG showed frequent posteriorly dominant generalized spikes that were consistent with a generalized seizure. From a genetic analysis, a c.2743C>T (p.Gln915X) mutation was detected and diagnosed as Menkes disease. The mutation is a novel one that has not been previously reported as a cause of Menkes disease.
Menkes Disease; MNK Gene; ATP7A Mutation
Menkes disease is a fatal neurodegenerative disorder in infants caused by mutations in the gene ATP7A which encodes a copper (Cu) transporter. Defects in ATP7A lead to accumulated copper in the small intestine and kidneys and to copper deficiencies in the brain and the liver. The copper level in the kidney in postnatal copper-treated Menkes patients may reach toxic levels. The mouse model, mosaic Atp7a mo-ms recapitulates the Menkes phenotype and die about 15.75±1.5 days of age. In the present study we found that prenatal treatment of mosaic murine fetuses throughout gestation days 7, 11, 15 and 18 with a combination of CuCl2 (50 mg/kg) and dimethyldithiocarbamate (DMDTC) (280 mg/kg) leads to an increase in survival to about 76±25.3 days, whereas treatment with CuCl2 alone (50 mg/kg) only leads to survival for about 21 days ±5 days. These copper-DMDTC treated mutants showed an improved locomotor activity performance and a gain in body mass. In contrast to treatment with CuCl2 alone, a significant increase in the amount of copper was observed in the brain after prenatal copper-DMDTC treatment as well as a decrease in the amount of accumulated copper in the kidney, both leading towards a normalization of the copper level. Although copper-DMDTC prenatal treatment only leads to a small increase in the sub-normal copper concentration in the liver and to an increase of copper in the already overloaded small intestine, the combined results suggest that prenatal copper-DMDTC treatment also should be considered for humans.
Classical Menkes disease is a neurodegenerative disorder caused by mutations in the copper-transporting ATPase ATP7A gene which, when untreated, is usually fatal in early childhood. A mild form of Menkes disease was originally reported in 1981 and clinical progress of the patient at 10 years described subsequently. The causative mutation is c.4085C>T in exon 21, causing an alanine to valine substitution in the highly conserved TM7 domain at the C-terminal end of the Menkes protein. Here we report his status at 34 years of age. Intellectual impairment is mild. Ataxia has nearly resolved but motor retardation, dysarthria and an extreme slow speech rate remain. In contrast to patients with the occipital horn syndrome, there have been no connective tissue complications of his mild Menkes disease. He has been under long-term copper therapy for more than 30 years and he continues to enjoy a good quality of life.
Copper is an essential trace element that plays a critical role in the survival of all living organisms. Menkes disease and occipital horn syndrome (OHS) are allelic disorders of copper transport caused by defects in a X-linked gene (ATP7A) that encodes a P-type ATPase that transports copper across cellular membranes, including the trans-Golgi network. Genetic studies in yeast recently revealed a new family of cytoplasmic proteins called copper chaperones which bind copper ions and deliver them to specific cellular pathways. Biochemical studies of the human homolog of one copper chaperone, ATOX1, indicate direct interaction with the Menkes/OHS protein. Although no disease-associated mutations have been reported in ATOX1, mice with disruption of the ATOX1 locus demonstrate perinatal mortality similar to that observed in the brindled mice (Mobr), a mouse model of Menkes disease. The cDNA sequence for ATOX1 is known, and the genomic organization has not been reported.
We determined the genomic structure of ATOX1. The gene contains 4 exons spanning a genomic distance of approximately 16 kb. The translation start codon is located in the 3' end of exon 1 and the termination codon in exon 3. We developed a PCR-based assay to amplify the coding regions and splice junctions from genomic DNA. We screened for ATOX1 mutations in two patients with classical Menkes disease phenotypes and one individual with occipital horn syndrome who had no alterations detected in ATP7A, as well as an adult female with chronic anemia, low serum copper and evidence of mild dopamine-beta-hydroxylase deficiency and no alterations in the ATOX1 coding or splice junction sequences were found.
In this study, we characterized the genomic structure of the human copper chaperone ATOX1 to facilitate screening of this gene from genomic DNA in patients whose clinical or biochemical phenotypes suggest impaired copper transport.
Defects in the mammalian Menkes and Wilson copper transporting P-type ATPases cause severe copper homeostasis disease phenotypes in humans. Here, we find that DmATP7, the sole Drosophila orthologue of the Menkes and Wilson genes, is vital for uptake of copper in vivo. Analysis of a DmATP7 loss-of-function allele shows that DmATP7 is essential in embryogenesis, early larval development, and adult pigmentation and is probably required for copper uptake from the diet. These phenotypes are analogous to those caused by mutation in the mouse and human Menkes genes, suggesting that like Menkes, DmATP7 plays at least two roles at the cellular level: delivering copper to cuproenzymes required for pigmentation and neuronal function and removing excess cellular copper via facilitated efflux. DmATP7 displays a dynamic and unexpected expression pattern in the developing embryo, implying novel functions for this copper pump and the lethality observed in DmATP7 mutant flies is the earliest seen for any copper homeostasis gene.
Copper is a cofactor for many cellular enzymes and transporters1. To load onto secreted and endomembrane cuproproteins, copper is translocated from the cytosol into membrane-bound organelles by ATP7A or ATP7B transporters, the genes for which are mutated in the copper imbalance syndromes, Menkes and Wilson disease, respectively2. Endomembrane cuproproteins are thought to stably incorporate copper upon transit through the trans Golgi network (TGN), within which ATP7A3 accumulates by dynamic cycling through early endocytic compartments4. Here we show that the pigment cell-specific cuproenzyme tyrosinase acquires copper only transiently and inefficiently within the TGN of melanocytes. To catalyze melanin synthesis, tyrosinase is subsequently reloaded with copper within specialized organelles called melanosomes. Copper is supplied to melanosomes by ATP7A, a cohort of which localizes to melanosomes in a Biogenesis of Lysosome-related Organelles Complex-1 (BLOC-1)-dependent manner. These results indicate that cell type-specific localization of a metal transporter is required to sustain metallation of an endomembrane cuproenzyme, providing a mechanism for exquisite spatial control of metalloenzyme activity. Moreover, as BLOC-1 subunits are mutated in subtypes of the genetic disease, Hermansky-Pudlak syndrome (HPS), these results also show that defects in copper transporter localization contribute to hypopigmentation, and hence perhaps other systemic defects, in HPS.
Owing to mutations in the copper‐transporting P‐type ATPase, ATP7A (or MNK), patients with Menkes disease (MD) have an inadequate supply of copper to various copper‐dependent enzymes. The ATP7A protein is located in the trans‐Golgi network, where it transports copper via secretory compartments to copper‐dependent enzymes. Raised copper concentrations result in the trafficking of ATP7A to the plasma membrane, where it functions in copper export. An important model of MD is the Mottled mouse, which possesses mutations in Atp7A. The Mottled mouse displays three distinct phenotypic severities: embryonic lethal, perinatal lethal and a longer‐lived viable phenotype. However, the effects of mutations from these phenotypic classes on the ATP7A protein are unknown. In this study, we found that these classes of mutation differentially affect the copper transport and trafficking functions of the ATP7A protein. The embryonic lethal mutation, Atp7amo11H (11H), caused mislocalisation of the protein to the endoplasmic reticulum, impaired glycosylation, and abolished copper delivery to the secretory pathway. In contrast, the perinatal lethal and viable mutations, Atp7amoMac (Macular) and Atp7amoVbr (Viable brindle) both resulted in a reduction in copper delivery to the secretory pathway and constitutive trafficking of the ATP7A protein to the plasma membrane in the absence of additional copper. In the case of Viable brindle, this hypertrafficking response was dependent on the catalytic phosphorylation site of ATP7A, whereas no such requirement was found for the Macular mutation. These findings provide evidence that the degree of MD severity in mice is associated with both copper transport and trafficking defects in the ATP7A protein.
Menkes disease; mottled mice; copper; ATP7A; protein trafficking
Menkes disease is a fatal neurodegenerative disorder of infancy caused by defects in an X-linked copper transport gene, ATP7A. Evidence from a recent clinical trial indicates that favorable response to early treatment of this disorder with copper injections involves mutations that retain some copper transport capacity. In three unrelated infants, we identified the same mutation, G727R, in the second transmembrane segment of the ATP7A gene product that complemented a S. cerevisiae copper transport mutant, consistent with partial copper transport activity. Quantitative reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction studies showed approximately normal levels of ATP7AG727R transcript in two patients’ fibroblasts compared to wild type controls, but Western blot analyses showed markedly reduced quantities of ATP7A protein, suggesting post-translational degradation. We confirmed the latter by comparing degradation rates of mutant and wild type ATP7A via cyclohexamide treatment of cultured fibroblasts; half-life of the G727R mutant was 2.9 hr and for the wild-type, 11.4 hr. We also documented a X-box binding protein 1 splice variant in G727R cells - known to be associated with the cellular misfolded protein response. Patient A, diagnosed 6 months of age, began treatment at 228 days (7.6 mos) of age. At his current age (2 years), his overall neurodevelopment remains at a 2 to 4 month level. In contrast, patients B and C were diagnosed in the neonatal period, began treatment within 25 days of age, and show near normal neurodevelopment at their current ages, 3 years (B), and 7 months (C). The poor clinical outcome in patient A with the same missense mutation as patients A and B with near normal oucomes, confirms the importance of early medical intervention in Menkes disease and highlights the critical potential benefit of newborn screening for this disorder.
Menkes disease (MD) is an X-linked recessive disorder characterized by copper deficiency resulting in a diminished function of copper-dependent enzymes. Most MD patients die in early childhood, although mild forms of MD have also been described. A diversity of mutations in the gene encoding of the Golgi-resident copper-transporting P1B-type ATPase ATP7A underlies MD. To elucidate the molecular consequences of the ATP7A mutations, various mutations in ATP7A associated with distinct phenotypes of MD (L873R, C1000R, N1304S, and A1362D) were analyzed in detail. All mutants studied displayed changes in protein expression and intracellular localization parallel to a dramatic decline in their copper-transporting capacity compared to ATP7A the wild-type. We restored these observed defects in ATP7A mutant proteins by culturing the cells at 30°C, which improves the quality of protein folding, similar to that which as has recently has been demonstrated for misfolded ATP7B, a copper transporter homologous to ATP7A. Further, the effect of the canine copper toxicosis protein COMMD1 on ATP7A function was examined as COMMD1 has been shown to regulate the proteolysis of ATP7B proteins. Interestingly, in addition to adjusted growth temperature, binding of COMMD1 partially restored the expression, subcellular localization, and copper-exporting activities of the ATP7A mutants. However, no effect of pharmacological chaperones was observed. Together, the presented data might provide a new direction for developing therapies to improve the residual exporting activity of unstable ATP7A mutant proteins, and suggests a potential role for COMMD1 in this process.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s00018-011-0743-1) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
ATP7A; Copper; COMMD1; Menkes disease; Pharmacological chaperones; Protein folding
The trace metal copper is essential for a variety of biological processes, but extremely toxic when present in excessive amounts. Therefore, concentrations of this metal in the body are kept under tight control. Central regulators of cellular copper metabolism are the copper‐transporting P‐type ATPases ATP7A and ATP7B. Mutations in ATP7A or ATP7B disrupt the homeostatic copper balance, resulting in copper deficiency (Menkes disease) or copper overload (Wilson disease), respectively. ATP7A and ATP7B exert their functions in copper transport through a variety of interdependent mechanisms and regulatory events, including their catalytic ATPase activity, copper‐induced trafficking, post‐translational modifications and protein–protein interactions. This paper reviews the extensive efforts that have been undertaken over the past few years to dissect and characterise these mechanisms, and how these are affected in Menkes and Wilson disease. As both disorders are characterised by an extensive clinical heterogeneity, we will discus how the underlying genetic defects correlate with the molecular functions of ATP7A and ATP7B and with the clinical expression of these disorders.
copper; Menkes disease; ATP7A; Wilson disease; ATP7B
Menkes disease is an X-linked recessive disorder of copper transport caused by mutations in ATP7A, a copper-transporting ATPase. Certain radiologic findings reported in this condition overlap with those caused by child abuse. However, cervical spine defects simulating cervical spine fracture, a known result of nonaccidental pediatric trauma, have not been reported previously in this illness.
To assess the frequency of cervical spine anomalies in Menkes disease after discovery of an apparent C2 posterior arch defect in a child participating in a clinical trial.
Materials and methods
We examined cervical spine radiographs obtained in 35 children with Menkes disease enrolled in a clinical trial at the National Institutes of Health Clinical Center.
Four of the 35 children with Menkes disease had apparent C2 posterior arch defects consistent with spondylolysis or incomplete/delayed ossification.
Defects in C2 were found in 11% of infants and young children with Menkes disease. Discovery of cervical spine defects expands the spectrum of radiologic findings associated with this condition. As with other skeletal abnormalities, this feature simulates nonaccidental trauma. In the context of Menkes disease, suspicions of child abuse should be considered cautiously and tempered by these findings to avoid unwarranted accusations.
Menkes disease; Cervical spine; Bone abnormalities; Copper metabolism
Menkes disease is a lethal X-linked recessive neurodegenerative disorder of copper transport caused by mutations in ATP7A, which encodes a copper-transporting ATPase. Early postnatal treatment with copper injections often improves clinical outcomes in affected infants. While Menkes disease newborns appear normal neurologically, analyses of fetal tissues including placenta indicate abnormal copper distribution and suggest a prenatal onset of the metal transport defect. In an affected fetus whose parents found termination unacceptable and who understood the associated risks, we began in utero copper histidine treatment at 31.5 weeks gestational age. Copper histidine (900 μg per dose) was administered directly to the fetus by intramuscular injection (fetal quadriceps or gluteus) under ultrasound guidance. Percutaneous umbilical blood sampling enabled serial measurement of fetal copper and ceruloplasmin levels that were used to guide therapy over a four-week period. Fetal copper levels rose from 17 μg/dL prior to treatment to 45 μg/dL, and ceruloplasmin levels from 39 mg/L to 122 mg/L. After pulmonary maturity was confirmed biochemically, the baby was delivered at 35.5 weeks and daily copper histidine therapy (250 μg sc b.i.d.) was begun. Despite this very early intervention with copper, the infant showed hypotonia, developmental delay, and electroencephalographic abnormalities and died of respiratory failure at 5.5 months of age. The patient’s ATP7A mutation, which severely disrupted mRNA splicing, resulted in complete absence of ATP7A protein on Western blots. These investigations suggest that prenatally initiated copper replacement is inadequate to correct Menkes disease caused by severe loss-of-function mutations, and that postnatal ATP7A gene addition represents a rational approach in such circumstances.
Menkes disease (MD) is an X-linked, fatal neurodegenerative disorder of copper metabolism, caused by mutations in the ATP7A gene. Thirty-three Menkes patients in whom no mutation had been detected with standard diagnostic tools were screened for exon duplications in the ATP7A gene.
The ATP7A gene was screened for exon duplications using multiplex ligation-dependent probe amplification (MLPA). The expression level of ATP7A was investigated by real-time PCR and detailed analysis of the ATP7A mRNA was performed by RT-PCR followed by sequencing. In order to investigate whether the identified duplicated fragments originated from a single or from two different X-chromosomes, polymorphic markers located in the duplicated fragments were analyzed.
Partial ATP7A gene duplication was identified in 20 unrelated patients including one patient with Occipital Horn Syndrome (OHS). Duplications in the ATP7A gene are estimated from our material to be the disease causing mutation in 4% of the Menkes disease patients. The duplicated regions consist of between 2 and 15 exons. In at least one of the cases, the duplication was due to an intra-chromosomal event. Characterization of the ATP7A mRNA transcripts in 11 patients revealed that the duplications were organized in tandem, in a head to tail direction. The reading frame was disrupted in all 11 cases. Small amounts of wild-type transcript were found in all patients as a result of exon-skipping events occurring in the duplicated regions. In the OHS patient with a duplication of exon 3 and 4, the duplicated out-of-frame transcript coexists with an almost equally represented wild-type transcript, presumably leading to the milder phenotype.
In general, patients with duplication of only 2 exons exhibit a milder phenotype as compared to patients with duplication of more than 2 exons. This study provides insight into exon duplications in the ATP7A gene.
The transition metal, copper (Cu), is an enzymatic cofactor required for a wide range of biochemical processes. Its essentiality is demonstrated by Menkes disease, an X-linked copper deficiency disorder characterized by defects in nervous-, cardiovascular- and skeletal systems, and is caused by mutations in the ATP7A copper transporter. Certain ATP7A mutations also cause X-linked Spinal Muscular Atrophy type 3 (SMAX3), which is characterized by neuromuscular defects absent an underlying systemic copper deficiency. While an understanding of these ATP7A-related disorders would clearly benefit from an animal model that permits tissue-specific deletion of the ATP7A gene, no such model currently exists. In this study, we generated a floxed mouse model allowing the conditional deletion of the Atp7a gene using Cre recombinase. Global deletion of Atp7a resulted in morphological and vascular defects in hemizygous male embryos and death in utero. Heterozygous deletion in females resulted in a 50% reduction in live births and a high postnatal lethality. These studies demonstrate the essential role of the Atp7a gene in mouse embryonic development and establish a powerful model for understanding the tissue-specific roles of ATP7A in copper metabolism and disease.
Menkes disease is an X linked recessive disorder of copper metabolism characterised by neurological symptoms and connective tissue manifestations. The defective gene in Menkes disease has recently been isolated and the gene product is predicted to be a copper transporting ATPase. The diagnosis of Menkes disease has hitherto been performed by biochemical analysis, based on intracellular accumulation of copper. Cloning the gene opened up the possibility of establishing precise and reliable carrier and prenatal diagnosis by defining the molecular defect. In this report we describe the partial deletion of the Menkes gene in a patient who had inherited the mutation from his phenotypically normal mother. This information enabled us to perform prenatal diagnosis by direct mutation analysis of the mother's sixth pregnancy and we detected the same deletion, indicating that the male fetus was affected. This first prenatal diagnosis of Menkes disease by direct mutation analysis shows some advantages of DNA analysis compared to biochemical diagnosis.
Trichopoliodystrophy (also known as Menkes' kinky or steely hair disease), a recessive sex-linked syndrome, is characterized by severely retarded mental and physical development, convulsions, a particular phenotype and abnormalities of the hair, bones and arteries. Very low levels of copper and ceruloplasmin in the serum confirm the diagnosis. This rare disorder is caused by an inborn error of copper metabolism whose nature is not yet clear. Recent hypotheses favour either an abnormality in the transport of copper across the cell membrane or increased affinity for copper of the intracellular binding protein. Because the metabolic abnormality is expressed autonomously and irregularly in various tissues, the distribution of copper within the body is disordered. Up to now none of the many forms of copper therapy has succeeded in modifying the fatal course of the disease in humans. This article presents a new case, the first in Canada, and a review of the other 69 cases described in the literature. The new case illustrates, in addition to the classic picture, less well known features, such as diverticula of the bladder mucosa and serosa, as well as cortical atrophy and malformed cerebral vessels demonstrated by computer-assisted tomography.
Menkes disease is a fatal neurodegenerative disorder of infancy caused by diverse mutations in a copper-transport gene, ATP7A. Early treatment with copper injections may prevent death and illness, but presymptomatic detection is hindered by the inadequate sensitivity and specificity of diagnostic tests. Exploiting the deficiency of a copper enzyme, dopamine-β-hydroxylase, we prospectively evaluated the diagnostic usefulness of plasma neurochemical levels, assessed the clinical effect of early detection, and investigated the molecular bases for treatment outcomes.
Between May 1997 and July 2005, we measured plasma dopamine, norepinephrine, dihydroxyphenylacetic acid, and dihydroxyphenylglycol in 81 infants at risk. In 12 newborns who met the eligibility criteria and began copper-replacement therapy within 22 days after birth, we tracked survival and neurodevelopment longitudinally for 1.5 to 8 years. We characterized ATP7A mutations using yeast complementation, reverse-transcriptase–polymerase-chain-reaction analysis, and immunohistochemical analysis.
Of 81 infants at risk, 46 had abnormal neurochemical findings indicating low dopamine-β-hydroxylase activity. On the basis of longitudinal follow-up, patients were classified as affected or unaffected by Menkes disease, and the neurochemical profiles were shown to have high sensitivity and specificity for detecting disease. Among 12 newborns with positive screening tests who were treated early with copper, survival at a median follow-up of 4.6 years was 92%, as compared with 13% at a median follow-up of 1.8 years for a historical control group of 15 late-diagnosis and late-treatment patients. Two of the 12 patients had normal neurodevelopment and brain myelination; 1 of these patients had a mutation that complemented a Saccharomyces cerevisiae copper-transport mutation, indicating partial ATPase activity, and the other had a mutation that allowed some correct ATP7A splicing.
Neonatal diagnosis of Menkes disease by plasma neurochemical measurements and early treatment with copper may improve clinical outcomes. Affected newborns who have mutations that do not completely abrogate ATP7A function may be especially responsive to early copper treatment.
ATP7A is a P-type ATPase that regulates cellular copper homeostasis by activity at the trans-Golgi network (TGN) and plasma membrane (PM), with the location normally governed by intracellular copper concentration. Defects in ATP7A lead to Menkes disease or its milder variant, occipital horn syndrome or to a newly discovered condition, ATP7A-related distal motor neuropathy (DMN), for which the precise pathophysiology has been obscure. We investigated two ATP7A motor neuropathy mutations (T994I, P1386S) previously associated with abnormal intracellular trafficking. In the patients' fibroblasts, total internal reflection fluorescence microscopy indicated a shift in steady-state equilibrium of ATP7AT994I and ATP7AP1386S, with exaggerated PM localization. Transfection of Hek293T cells and NSC-34 motor neurons with the mutant alleles tagged with the Venus fluorescent protein also revealed excess PM localization. Endocytic retrieval of the mutant alleles from the PM to the TGN was impaired. Immunoprecipitation assays revealed an abnormal interaction between ATP7AT994I and p97/VCP, an ubiquitin-selective chaperone which is mutated in two autosomal dominant forms of motor neuron disease: amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and inclusion body myopathy with early-onset Paget disease and fronto-temporal dementia. Small-interfering RNA (SiRNA) knockdown of p97/VCP corrected ATP7AT994I mislocalization. Flow cytometry documented that non-permeabilized ATP7AP1386S fibroblasts bound a carboxyl-terminal ATP7A antibody, consistent with relocation of the ATP7A di-leucine endocytic retrieval signal to the extracellular surface and partially destabilized insertion of the eighth transmembrane helix. Our findings illuminate the mechanisms underlying ATP7A-related DMN and establish a link between p97/VCP and genetically distinct forms of motor neuron degeneration.
ATP7A is a copper-transporting ATPase critical for central and peripheral nervous system function. Mutations in ATP7A cause Menkes disease and occipital horn syndrome (OHS), allelic X-linked recessive conditions that feature vascular abnormalities ascribed to low activity of lysyl oxidase, a copper-dependent enzyme. From a recently created Menkes disease/OHS patient registry, we identified 4 of 95 subjects with major congenital heart defects (4.2%), a proportion exceeding the general population prevalence (≈1%). In conjunction with mouse models of Menkes disease, OHS, and lysyl oxidase deficiency, which feature aortic aneurysms, irregular attachment between vascular endothelium and mesoderm and other defects of embryological development, our observation suggests an important role of copper metabolism in cardiac development. Congenital heart disease may be an under-appreciated abnormality in Menkes disease, and should be considered in a broad differential diagnosis of cardiac defects found prenatally in male fetuses. Conversely, newborn infants with suspected or confirmed Menkes disease should be evaluated for heart disease by careful clinical examination and echocardiography, if indicated.
ATP7A; congenital heart disease; lysyl oxidase; Menkes disease; occipital horn syndrome
The primary mechanism of copper transport to the brain is unknown, although this process is drastically impaired in Menkes disease, an X-linked neurodevelopmental disorder caused by mutations in an evolutionarily conserved copper transporter, ATP7A. Potential central nervous system entry routes for copper include brain capillary endothelial cells that originate from mesodermal angioblasts and form the blood-brain barrier, and the choroid plexuses, which derive from embryonic ectoderm, and form the blood-cerebrospinal fluid barrier. We exploited a rare (and first reported) example of somatic mosaicism for an ATP7A mutation to shed light on questions about copper transport into the developing brain. In a 20-month-old Menkes disease patient evaluated before copper treatment, blood copper and catecholamine concentrations were normal, whereas levels in cerebrospinal fluid were abnormal and consistent with his neurologically severe phenotype. We documented disparate levels of mosaicism for an ATP7A missense mutation, P1001L, in tissues derived from different embryonic origins; allele quantitation showed P1001L in approximately 27% and 88% of DNA samples from blood cells (mesoderm-derived) and cultured fibroblasts (ectoderm-derived), respectively. These findings imply that the P1001L mutation in the patient preceded formation of the three primary embryonic lineages at gastrulation, with the ectoderm layer ultimately harboring a higher percentage of mutation-bearing cells than mesoderm or endoderm. Since choroid plexus epithelia are derived from neuroectoderm, and brain capillary endothelial cells from mesodermal angioblasts, the clinical and biochemical findings in this infant support a critical role for the blood-CSF barrier (choroid plexus epithelia) in copper entry to the developing brain.
Somatic mosaicism; Menkes disease; ATP7A; copper metabolism; choroid plexus
Menkes disease is an X-linked recessive neurodevelopmental disorder resulting from mutation in a copper-transporting ATPase gene. Menkes disease can be detected by relatively high concentrations of dopamine (DA) and its metabolites compared to norepinephrine (NE) and its metabolites, presumably because dopamine-beta-hydroxylase (DBH) requires copper as a co-factor. The relative diagnostic efficiencies of levels of catechol analytes, alone or in combination, in neonates at genetic risk of Menkes disease have been unknown.
Plasma from 44 at-risk neonates less than 30 days old were assayed for DA, NE, and other catechols. Of the 44, 19 were diagnosed subsequently with Menkes disease, and 25 were unaffected.
Compared to unaffected at-risk infants, those with Menkes disease had high plasma DA (P < 10−6) and low NE (P < 10−6) levels. Considered alone, neither DA nor NE levels had perfect sensitivity, whereas the ratio of DA:NE was higher in all affected than in all unaffected subjects (P = 2 × 10−8). Analogously, levels of the DA metabolite, dihydroxyphenylacetic acid (DOPAC), and the NE metabolite, dihydroxyphenylglycol (DHPG), were imperfectly sensitive, whereas the DOPAC:DHPG ratio was higher in all affected than in all unaffected subjects (P = 2 × 10−4). Plasma dihydroxyphenylalanine (DOPA) and the ratio of epinephrine (EPI):NE levels were higher in affected than in unaffected neonates (P = 0.0015; P = 0.013).
Plasma DA:NE and DOPAC:DHPG ratios are remarkably sensitive and specific for diagnosing Menkes disease in at-risk newborns. Affected newborns also have elevated DOPA and EPI:NE ratios, which decreased DBH activity alone cannot explain.
Menkes; Dopamine; Norepinephrine; Dopamine-β-hydroxylase; DHPG; DOPAC; Diagnosis
Epilepsy is a major feature of Menkes disease, an X-linked recessive infantile neurodegenerative disorder caused by mutations in ATP7A, which produces a copper-transporting ATPase. Three prior surveys indicated clinical seizures and electroencephalographic (EEG) abnormalities in a combined 27 of 29 (93%) symptomatic Menkes disease patients diagnosed at 2 months of age or older. To assess the influence of earlier, presymptomatic diagnosis and treatment on seizure semiology and brain electrical activity, we evaluated 71 EEGs in 24 Menkes disease patients who were diagnosed and treated with copper injections in early infancy (≤6 weeks of age), and whose ATP7A mutations we determined. Clinical seizures were observed in only 12.5% (3/24) of these patients, although 46% (11/24) had at least one abnormal EEG tracing, including 50% of patients with large deletions in ATP7A, 50% of those with small deletions, 60% of those with nonsense mutations, and 57% of those with canonical splice junction mutations. In contrast, five patients with mutations shown to retain partial function, either via some correct RNA splicing or residual copper transport capacity, had neither clinical seizures nor EEG abnormalities. Our findings suggest that early diagnosis and treatment improve brain electrical activity and decrease seizure occurrence in classical Menkes disease irrespective of the precise molecular defect. Subjects with ATP7A mutations that retain some function seem particularly well protected by early intervention against the possibility of epilepsy.
Menkes Disease (MD) is a neurodegenerative disorder caused by mutations in the copper transporter, ATP7A, a P-type ATPase. We previously used the olfactory system to demonstrate that ATP7A expression is developmentally, not constitutive, regulated, peaking during synaptogenesis when it is highly expressed in extending axons in a copper-independent manner. Although not known to be associated with axonal functions, we explored the possibility that the inability of mutant ATP7A to support axon outgrowth contributes to the neurodegeneration seen in MD. In vivo analysis of the olfactory system in mottled brindled (Atp7aMobr) mice, a rodent model for MD, demonstrates that ATP7A deficiency affects olfactory sensory neuron (OSN) maturation. Disrupted OSN axonal projections and mitral/tufted cell dendritic growth lead to altered synapse integrity and glomerular disorganization in the olfactory bulbs of Atp7aMobr mice. Our data indicate that the neuronal abnormalities observed in MD are a result of specific age-dependent developmental defects. This study demonstrates a role for ATP7A and/or copper in axon outgrowth and synaptogenesis, and will further help identify the cause of the neuropathology that characterizes MD.
ATP7A; Menkes Disease; olfactory system; olfactory sensory neurons; neurodevelopment; axonal outgrowth; synapse
Classical Menkes disease is an X-linked recessive neurodegenerative disorder caused by mutations in a P-type ATPase (ATP7A) that normally delivers copper to the developing central nervous system. Infants with large deletions, or other mutations in ATP7A that incapacitate copper transport to the brain, show poor clinical outcomes and subnormal brain copper despite early subcutaneous copper histidine (CuHis) injections. These findings suggest a need for direct central nervous system approaches in such patients. To begin to evaluate an aggressive but potentially useful new strategy for metabolic improvement of this disorder, we studied the acute and chronic effects of CuHis administered by intracerebroventricular (ICV) injection in healthy adult rats. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) after ICV CuHis showed diffuse T1-signal enhancement, indicating wide brain distribution of copper after ICV administration, and implying the utility of this paramagnetic metal as a MRI contrast agent. The maximum tolerated dose (MTD) of CuHis, defined as the highest dose that did not induce overt toxicity, growth retardation, or reduce lifespan, was 0.5 mcg. Animals receiving multiple infusions of this MTD showed increased brain copper concentrations, but no significant differences in activity, behavior, and somatic growth, or brain histology compared to saline-injected controls. Based on estimates of the brain copper deficit in Menkes disease patients, CuHis doses 10-fold lower than the MTD found in this study may restore proper brain copper concentration. Our results suggest that ICV CuHis administration have potential as a novel treatment approach in Menkes disease infants with severe mutations. Future trials of direct CNS copper administration in mouse models of Menkes disease will be informative.
Copper histidine; Intracerebral administration; Maximum tolerated dose; Menkes disease; Copper transport
The copper transporter ATP7A has attracted significant attention since the discovery of its gene mutation leading to human Menkes disease. We previously reported that ATP7A is highly expressed in the human vasculature and identified a novel vascular function of ATP7A in modulation of the expression and activity of extracellular superoxide dismutase. We recently identified that ATP7A expression in THP-1 cells (a monocyte/macrophage model cell line) plays a role in the oxidation of low density lipoproteins, indicating that it is necessary to further investigate its expression and function in monocytes/macrophages. In the current study, we demonstrated the protein and mRNA expression of ATP7A in human peripheral blood mononuclear cell (PBMC)-derived macrophages and alveolar macrophages. ATP7A was strongly co-localized with the trans-Golgi apparatus in PBMC-derived macrophages. Intracellular copper, detected by synchrotron X-ray fluorescence microscopy, was found to be distributed to the nucleus and cytoplasm in human THP-1 cells. To confirm the role of endogenous ATP7A in macrophage copper homeostasis, we performed inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry in murine peritoneal macrophages, which showed markedly increased intracellular copper levels in macrophages isolated from ATP7A-deficient mice versus control mice. Moreover, the role of ATP7A in regulating macrophage responses to dermal wounds was studied by introduction of control and ATP7A-downregulated THP-1 cells into dermal wounds of nude mice. Infiltration of THP-1 cells into the wounded area (detected by expression of human macrophage markers MAC2 and CD68) was reduced in response to downregulation of ATP7A, hinting decreased macrophage accumulation subsequent to dermal wounds. In summary, alongside our previous studies, these findings indicate that human macrophage ATP7A is localized in the trans-Golgi apparatus, regulates intracellular copper levels, and mediates macrophage responses to a dermal wound.
macrophage; copper; ATP7A